|This is a painting by one of my favorite artists Jorge Coco. Look him up!|
I know I am not super creative or very good at writing but I have been thinking for awhile I needed to post about my Christmas. So please forgive my grammar and writing errors.
When I was little the best Christmas meant Christmas cookies, gingerbread houses, homemade fudge, making and taking neighbor gifts, watching Christmas shows on TV and getting what I really wanted for Christmas from Santa AND giving meaningful gifts to my family. Of course Jesus was a part of that but not necessarily the focus. If I had grown up in a colder place I would have also included snow for the best Christmas as well. But growing up Christmas didn't usually look like any of that for me, occasionally I got what I really wanted and we did the neighbor gift thing but it was hit and miss the rest of it. And you know that is really okay, my parents did their very best for us and I know that and I appreciate it. Jesus was definitely an important part of our celebration and THAT is the most important part of what my parents did for us at Christmas.
Last fall we had some unfortunate things happen that hurt us financially. We already had some challenges that had come up already so basically our savings was gone. In fact the money we had budgeted for Christmas and other things, gone to these expenses. I had done some Christmas shopping but not for everyone. So Tim and I decided that we wouldn't buy each other anything--well I had already bought him 2 things but nothing more. We sucked it up and were more frugal so we could meet all obligations with no debt. I thought of taking a job since seasonal work was opening up everywhere but I had made commitments to others that I didn't want jeopardize (i.e., watching my grandbaby and my volunteering commitments). But the real bottom line is I didn't feel like it was what I should do and neither did Tim. We trusted in God because we have been faithful tithe payers and He had always helped us through difficult challenges. Now this doesn't mean I didn't ever get discouraged but you will see overall He did bless us!
Not long after this time was General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The prophet, Russell N. Nelson gave the women of the church an invitation to read The Book of Mormon by the end of the year, among other things (here). He asked us to mark/notice where it talks of Christ and share with our families what we are learning about Christ from the Book of Mormon. I read the Book of Mormon everyday, occasionally I might miss but it is such a wonderful part of my daily routine I try not to. It brings peace to me and confidence that everything really is going to be okay and I have noticed if I do it first thing in my day I get way more accomplished. So I stopped where I had been reading and started over. I usually don't read the Book of Mormon that quickly, I am proud to say I read it in a month once because my kids were doing it and I had never done it so I did! Anyway, I figured out if I read 7 pages a day I would finish by the end of the year. So I set out to do it. I got a brand new Book of Mormon and marked it with red pencil.
During this time we did receive tender mercies like a refund for our daughter's surgery from 2 years ago? Coincidence? I think not. And others too many to type here. Then our oven broke the day before Thanksgiving. It was discouraging but we were able to order one but it ended up not being delivered until JANUARY! We used a neighbor's oven to bake Zane's birthday cake. And made do the rest of the time but we tried not to use the stove top because the oven would go on whether or not we had it turned on so we had to turn it off at the breaker. And it was a kiln. It was crazy. But the Christmas cookies and those things didn't happen and we scaled back what we were going to get people for Christmas and extra things we do at Christmas time. Some things I had already bought ahead of our troubles so we kept those things but were very careful. We were able to get things for our kids that we hoped would be meaningful even though it wasn't a lot and they were super great about not asking for anything extravagant. They were really awesome about the whole things. One of the best things is that were all together one last time for who knows how long with missions, people graduating form college etc? During the whole Christmas season I felt so loved and close to my Savior Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. I didn't feel worried or pressure to do anything other than love others. So that's what I tried to do and it was the best! It reminded me of my mission when I was teaching people about Christ at Christmas time and that made it my best Christmas until 2018! I know it was the Book of Mormon that made a difference. I was spending more time than normal, especially in December, reading the words of Christ. Feeling the power of that book every day strengthened me in ways I am so grateful. Also people were inspired to bless me and my family in very personal ways. And I did finish the Book of Mormon before the end of the year.
This scripture came to mind when I think of the blessings we received: "But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance." 1 Nephi 1:20
So basically my best Christmas, so far is because of The Book of Mormon. I started up from where I had left off before the invitation. I finished again last night. I want you to know that I know that The Book of Mormon is another Testament of Christ. That it supports the Bible in testifying that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament. The world is going a little crazy and reading the Bible and Book of Mormon keep me grounded and at peace. God our Heavenly Father knows each of us, He allows these earthly challenges to happen so we might turn to Him that He might bless us. These challenges in life are to help us become who we are meant to be if choose to learn from them and turn outward like Jesus Christ. He was the perfect example of using challenges to bless others. His atonement and sacrifice make it possible to return to live with Him and our Heavenly Father as families. God our Heavenly Father loves all His children, every person is his child, and He has prepared blessings to all who seek Him. If you feel He is distant in your life, please don't give up. Try to put away the distractions: phones, social media, TV etc. Pray and listen and seek Him in the scriptures. I will pray for YOU! I have found Him and His Son there every time and I am no one of particular consequence or importance in the world but I know that I matter to Him and His son and so do YOU! So every year I am going to start over in the Book of Mormon, no matter where I am, in October and finish it before Christmas! And it will be the best Christmas, again, I am sure of it!